Each of the state and local candidates in the November election was invited to submit biographical information and to reply to the questions below.
What are the top two issues facing Connecticut and what will you do about them if elected? Here are their responses.
First Congressional District
John Larson is the Representative for Connecticut’s First Congressional District and, with his wife Leslie, is a lifelong resident of East Hartford. He’s a former school teacher and small business owner. He previously served on the East Hartford Board of Education and Town Council and 12 years in the Connecticut State Senate. He has three children.
The top issues for Connecticut are the pandemic and our economy. This includes more relief to small businesses and the unemployed, which is vital to strengthening our economy. The health of our nation and the economy are inextricably linked until this pandemic ends. We can’t fix one without fixing the other, but we can work to address both at the same time.
To address these issues, we need a nationally-coordinated response to set federal standards to address this pandemic. States shouldn’t have to fight over supplies. We need to utilize the Defense Production Act and the Defense Logistics Agency to produce and distribute PPE, supplies, and tests across the country. I introduced legislation to utilize both of these programs to move our country forward.
At the same time, Congress needs to offer more relief to help industries that are the most impacted and small businesses. I have voted for the Heroes Act, which offers more of this needed relief and makes significant investments to increase testing. The Heroes Act increases unemployment benefits by $600/week through January and improves the Paycheck Protection Program that has been vital for small businesses. The increase in testing will allow us to get our nation back on track and help us contain the virus.
First Congressional District
Mary M. Fay is a second-term Republican West Hartford Town Councilor. She has experience working with finance and budget, human services, public works, and special services as assigned. She has been a resident of West Hartford for 17 years and is a Financial Services Senior Executive. She has held several senior business leadership roles, including Senior Vice President and General Manager of Sun Life Financial, where she also chaired diversity and inclusion employee resource groups and served on Sun Life boards. Mary has also been senior vice president of GE Capital, and senior vice president of ING. Starting out as a financial analyst, Mary has also held executive positions at Travelers, Hartford HealthCare, The Hartford, and AIG.
Mary is the daughter of a school teacher, was raised in East Hartford, and attended public schools. She went on to graduate from Skidmore College with a B.S. in business/accounting and a minor in government. She played basketball and started the women’s softball team at Skidmore. Mary earned an MBA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Active in her community, Mary is a two-term member of West Hartford’s Town Council. She was appointed to the West Hartford library board, is a frequent volunteer at Morley school, is active in Concerned Citizens of West Hartford, and Save our Water, CT. She also serves on the board of overseers for Newton-Wellesley hospital, is chair of the reviewing stand for the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, and was named a “Top Woman in Business” by the Hartford Business Journal. Mary has served as an alumni admission’s correspondent for Skidmore College since graduating. Mary was an inaugural member of West Hartford’s first Parent Leadership Training Institute, where she was elected class speaker at the state-wide graduation at the state capital.
She is a member of the Irish American Home Society and The Thistle Lawn Bowling Club and is a parishioner at St. Timothy’s.
Mary is married and has a 10-year-old daughter, Katie.
Top two issues facing the state are the economy and public safety. We need to get people back to work in quality jobs. Connecticut has been a laggard in economic and job recovery. Blue-chip companies, like GE, have left. We need to get back to economic prominence to provide an opportunity for all by keeping taxes down, funding the trades, and manufacturing in high schools, we can train our workforce going forward.
We need to keep our neighborhoods safe. I back all first responders. I will not defund the police. We need good, capable police staff and we need to support them, and get rid of the bad actors. We need to hold nonperforming schools accountable.
If elected, I will reach out to congressional leaders on all sides and start building relationships. I will put my hat in the ring to obtain key assignments. I will advocate my constituents’ positions immediately and build coalitions. My priorities will be the economy and jobs, public safety and backing all first responders and police, and improving education. I will be in our district and consistently get input on key issues.
First Congressional District
Green Party Candidate
Tom McCormick is a long-time citizen activist, starting with opposing the Vietnam War while a student at UConn in 1973. He participated in blocking gates at Westover AFB. Gave up deferment and sent his 1A draft card back to sender. He organized with the Clamshell Alliance-Seabrook. Shutting Millstone has been his avocation. He brought the successful action at the DPUC to have Millstone removed from electric rates when it was closed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Organized the Reagan demonstration when he spoke to Knights of Columbus. Active in the Central America Peace and Justice movement and was arrested at CIA gate. Active in the Stop the Trident campaign and was arrested at Electric Boat gate. Marched against the Klan with Hartford Anti-racism Coalition. Marcher at the Freeze March NYC. Attended the Anniversary of the Poor People’s March DC. Long-time Chair of Greater Hartford Group of the Sierra Club. Former board member People’s Action for Clean Energy. Former board member CT Clean Energy Coop. Member CT Anti-Apartheid group. Attended Nelson Mandela Rally in Boston.
McCormick was raised in Hartford, and now resides in West Hartford. He is married to Dianne and has a son, Benjamin.
Reliance on war contracting for Connecticut jobs encapsulates much of what must change in our nation if we are to have economic prosperity and the social benefits that flow from full employment. War spending is highly inflationary and directs investment away from more productive sectors of the economy, such as investing in human capital. (Education) PW&A must switch from producing engines for the deeply flawed F-35 to producing the finest, most fuel-efficient engines for general aviation. Electric Boat must end production of unneeded SLBM boats—the Columbia Class and the fast attack sub–Virginia Class. Conversion to productive endeavors such as wind turbines/light rail cars will place the state on a sustainable growth path.
The ever-decreasing chance for individual/group for economic, educational, and social advancement (Opportunity) must be turned around for a prosperous future to occur. Increasingly disparate wealth and income levels are hollowing out Connecticut’s middle class and miring too many in poverty. The underpinnings of opportunity, equal access to technology and quality education must be strengthened.
I favor a state-wide owned-and-operated broadband network to promote a wide diffusing of knowledge. I support expanding public education by two years in academic and skill areas. I support highly progressive wealth, inheritance, and income taxes to counter the ever-increasing power of economic elites to rule with their own selfish ends in sight. Economic inequality results in a less efficient, robust economy for all.
State Senator, 7th District
Dr. Fred Moffa is a father, husband and small business owner. He graduated in 1995 from the New England College of Optometry and afterward moved back to Granby with his wife Jennifer, another lifelong Granby resident. Dr. Moffa and Jennifer started a family and soon after founded Granby Family Eye Care.
Just like Fred, all three children are graduates of Granby Memorial High School. Dr. Moffa has been active in Granby town government for more than 14 years, having served on the Board of Finance. He’s worked with both Democrats and Republicans, and knows how to face the challenges of managing tough budgets.
The SARS-COVID-2 pandemic is of course the most important issue for Connecticut to address, while the inequity in healthcare that’s been put into such sharp relief by the pandemic closely follows. I’ll listen to epidemiologists and other experts on how to keep families safe, while acknowledging the science that says masks and social distancing remain the best way to protect ourselves. Further insurance reform is needed to ensure residents of Connecticut have quality, affordable care, especially as we face a challenge to the Affordable Care Act on the national level that must be taken seriously. The pandemic has shown a real weakness in employer-provided coverage, one I’ll work to address in Hartford.
State Senator, 7th District
State Senator John A. Kissel, the Chief Deputy Senate Republican Leader, represents Connecticut’s 7th Senatorial District, which includes East Granby, Enfield, Somers, Suffield, Windsor Locks and parts of Granby and Windsor.
Senator Kissel is the Ranking Member of the Judiciary Committee, addressing matters relating to the Department of Corrections, courts, judicial procedures and criminal law. He also serves on the General Law Committee and the Transportation Committee.
For many years, Senator Kissel has been a leading advocate for seniors. He has received Legislative Achievement Awards from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) for his efforts to protect seniors from financial exploitation in 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Additionally, the Connecticut chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) selected Senator Kissel to receive the Public Policy Award for his dedication to promote safe and sober driving through legislation in 2016. Senator Kissel was also recognized by MADD as one of their 2016 Legislators of the Year.
Senator Kissel was raised in Windsor. He received a bachelor of bcience degree from the University of Connecticut School of Education in 1981, a juris doctor degree from Western New England College School of Law in 1984, and a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts and sciences, with a major in history, from the University of Connecticut in 2002. He is also past adjunct professor at Bay Path College in Longmeadow, Mass. Senator Kissel lives in Enfield with his wife, Cynthia, and their sons, Nathaniel and Tristan.
I believe the top issues Connecticut lawmakers need to focus on are: Making Connecticut more affordable and Growing jobs and rebuilding our economy. Our state has so much to offer, but far too many families cannot afford to live, work or raise their families here. Taxes on the working and middle class have grown year after year. Health care remains unaffordable and inaccessible for far too many people. The pandemic has only worsened the situation for many families and small businesses. We need to address affordability by fighting to keep taxes down and creating stability in the state budget so that state financial issues do not fall on the backs of our residents.
Connecticut’s growing unfunded pension liability and increasing fixed costs put an enormous burden on our families today, and future generations. We must continue to pursue policies like the ones Republicans successfully advocated for in the 2017 budget that reduce debt, cap spending and borrowing, bolster our rainy-day fund, and pay down on our unfunded liabilities.
We also need to focus on jobs and economic recovery. The pandemic has left thousands of people unemployed, small businesses shuttered and people scared for their future. We need to reduce burdens on small businesses so they can grow jobs and support workers. We also need to prioritize workforce development and education initiatives so that we have the skilled workforce needed to support growing jobs and so all people have a real opportunity to succeed.
The pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for all residents and has magnified many of the problems that have long existed in our state under one-party rule. We have come a long way on many issues when Republican voices have been included in conversations and policy making. I will continue to stand up for my constituents on these issues and many others as we work to recover and strengthen our state.
It has been my honor to serve you and I humbly ask for your vote on November 3.
State Senator, 8th District
State Senator, 8th District
Independent Party Candidate
State Senator, 8th District
Kevin Witkos is serving his sixth term as a State Senator and currently serves as Senate Republican Leader Pro Tempore. He previously served the towns of Canton and Avon for six years as a state representative.
Witkos was raised in Granby, graduated from Granby Memorial High School, and the Conneticut Police Academy while serving as a supernumerary police officer for the Town of Granby. He retired from Canton Police Department as a Sergeant, having served for 28 years. He has served as vice chairman of the Canton Board of Education, and served as chief of the Canton Volunteer Fire Department. He currently resides in Canton with his family, their cats and chickens.
One of the top issues we need to address is how to rebuild our economy safely and in a way that does not increase taxes or add undue burdens on businesses. Small businesses across Connecticut were struggling even before COVID, and this pandemic has added a litany of new challenges to our economy. A strong economy benefits our small towns, our residents, and our state as a whole. As we continue to re-open businesses, public health should remain a top priority, however we also need to ensure that new regulations or executive orders are created using data-based metrics.
Too often we see legislation created and implemented that adds new taxes, increases red tape and bureaucracy, and overall makes our state even less business friendly. This absolutely needs to change. The pandemic has shone a new light on the needs of our business community, and this is an ideal time to recognize how the state can better support businesses and grow our economy. I take full advantage of my position as Ranking Member of the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee to raise these issues and advocate for legislation that does not harm our businesses or hold back our economy. If I’m re-elected, I will continue to be an advocate for businesses of all sizes and continue to fight against the steady stream of tax increases that have become commonplace in our state.
The other issue that I constantly hear about is the recent Defund the Police bill that was rapidly pushed through the legislature in special session this summer. To be clear, common sense reform is not a bad thing. The horrific events we’ve seen across our country have spurred many long overdue conversations. This bill, however, went far beyond needed reforms and ultimately has made the job of our state troopers and local officers even harder.
Almost immediately after this bill was passed, we heard and saw reports and evidence of numerous troopers and officers making plans to retire or leave the profession early. At a time when it is already difficult to recruit new men and women to law enforcement, this bill makes that task even more challenging. Public safety and quality of life issues will always be a top priority of mine as I recognize just how important they are to our daily lives. I have joined calls from legislators of both parties to address various aspects of this bill and would also advocate for greater involvement of the public as well. Whenever important issues like these are being discussed it is vital that we get as much public feedback and response as possible and I will always push for greater public participation.
Audrey Lampert is a finance professional with more than three decades of experience overseeing billions of dollars of investments while consistently prioritizing client needs above her own. She has worked with both governments and corporations during periods of stress, and has experience navigating through financial challenges to find a secure path forward. She knows how corporate interests shape public policy, for the good or not. As a longtime resident and volunteer in Granby, she looks forward to bringing both her experience and desire to serve to the General Assembly.
The top issues facing Connecticut are our economy and the environment, because interwoven into those two issues are a host of other factors that impact our town budgets, education, seniors, and our quality of life.
If elected, I will focus first on our economy. The pandemic has hit Connecticut hard. More than 100,000 people have lost their jobs as of October, and often their health insurance as well. Many others are now earning less than they once were. Economic security is at the core of our ability to live well and thrive, and the recovery to a new normal will take time. As your state representative, I will bring expertise in finance to the table, and believes we are going to need it.
In the near term, we need to find ways to support people through this pandemic. Programs that address food security, relief for rent and utility payments, and healthcare coverage will need to continue well into next year. We also need to be prepared for future pandemics, including the manufacturing of PPE right here in Connecticut.
Longer term, Lampert believes the pandemic will have lingering effects on both the job market and education. The technology to work from home has both strengths and weaknesses, but overall more people are transitioning into that model on a permanent basis. We need to make sure that we continue to encourage investment in our telecommunications infrastructure, both wired and wireless, to make sure this works for people.
Second—the environment. We need to start taking energy policy seriously and come up with more than just empty platitudes when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. For too long, fossil fuel companies have dictated what the delivery of electricity will look like, to the point that Connecticut taxpayers are underwriting outsized profits for our energy providers. Governor Lamont’s recent announcement to join with the New England consortium to reevaluate the efficiency and redundancy of the electric grid in this region is a good step in the right direction. Additional programs to encourage the development of solar and wind energy are also going to be important.
Attention to our economy and environmental policy encompasses a wide range of social issues impacting children, seniors, and people of color. I am committed to remaining focused on how legislative action impacts our communities on both an intentional and unintentional basis. We must be vigilant to prevent unfunded mandates from unexpectedly pushing outsized costs onto our rural towns.
Mark Anderson served for 35 years in the Army, in various capacities. He mobilized as a reserve officer to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) for two-and-one-half years, with duty on the Joint Staff in support of the Iraq Intelligence Working Group. While with DIA at the Pentagon, he was promoted to his final rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Mark retired from the Army in 2016.
Born in Hartford, Mark lived his early years in East Granby. He then moved to nearby Western Massachusetts. After marrying Carole in 2014, he returned to his Connecticut roots, first living in East Hartland, and then settling in Granby. Between them, Mark and Carole have five adult children. Carole is a dental hygienist in Granby.
To help prepare for a second career, Mark earned a master’s degree in public policy with high distinction from Liberty University in 2018. The same year, he also worked as Representative Simanski’s campaign manager in a successful re-election effort. Perceiving road tolls as a great threat to affordability, he volunteered with No Tolls CT starting in January 2019.
Mark considers seeking elective office to be a continuation of a life of public service that began in the military. As a prospective legislator, Mark believes that the top two issues facing the state of Connecticut are, first, reining in the cost of state government, and second, making the state more affordable for businesses and individuals. He sees these issues as opposite sides of the same coin.
Up until about three decades ago, Connecticut was a national model of flourishing economics. Mark believes that can recur if the legislature passes legislation prioritizing economic growth.
Mark describes the current situation as one in which the growth rate of government exceeds the growth rate of the state economy. This is an unstainable situation. The state faces long-term unfunded pension liabilities of about $50,000 per taxpayer. Budget deficits are projected at $8 billion over the next three years, and the “rainy day” fund of $3 billion is insufficient to cover that. Connecticut is at the bottom 10 percent of just about every economic metric. Job growth has been flat for 30 years, with high paying jobs being replaced by low paying jobs.
Regarding the first important issue, Mark cited a recent Yankee Institute policy paper about the root cause of the cost control problem. It is the “supersedence,” or dominance, of state employee union contracts over state law. Some of the things that this has resulted in are: not fully funding pensions, allowing some salary schedules to be set outside of OPM, using excessive overtime, and imposing no-layoff provisions. The way to address this is to pass reform legislation that asserts state law as superior to state employee union contracts for all future contracts, as is the case in all other New England states.
On the second issue, making the state more affordable, Mark advocates pro-growth policies such as eliminating the Democrats’ payroll tax to finance FMLA, and allowing it to be replaced with private programs; stopping the minimum wage increase to $15, which causes unemployment of entry-level workers; and phasing out taxes on a business’s capital assets, which overburdens start-ups the most. Mark opposes new taxes and fees, to include the Democrats’ proposal to increase the Bottle Bill to 10¢, and to include non-carbonated soft drink containers. To reduce health care and insurance costs, require increased transparency, competition, and greater flexibility of coverage. Finally, to rein in electricity costs calls for a real cost-benefit analysis of energy sources, rather than imposing hidden taxes in consumer’s electricity bills in order to support green-new-deal type programs.